TIFF 2012 Review: THE LORDS OF SALEM Is a Slick Satanic Head Trip
It appears that Rob Zombie may have been studying up on his David Lynch lately as the metal-head-turned-filmmaker's latest is more head trip than it is horror. That's not to say The Lords of Salem doesn't have plenty of scares, but only a few of them come from cheap "gotcha" moments. This makes the film Zombie's most mature directorial work to date and a very enjoyable midnight entry.
The story revolves around Heidi, a popular radio DJ in modern day Salem played by Sheri Moon Zombie. Always on the lookout for new talent, Heidi finds more than she's looking for when an LP shows up at her door by a band called The Lords. The groovy tracks transfix Heidi and start to drive her mad with flashbacks from the town's haunting past.
Things get real freaky when Heidi falls under the spell of some decidedly witchy women and ends up effectively trapped in her apartment. The rich production design of the film gives the apartment set a carnival-esque feel that keeps the eyes darting about. The head-on wide-angle framing evokes Lynch and allows all sorts of interesting elements to fill the screen. The film does not look cheap and if nothing else, is certainly visually intriguing.
Unsurprisingly, the music is another strong aspect with the score by Zombie collaborators John 5 and Griffin Boice. The acting performances aren't the high point of the film, but Sherri does a decent job. She may not be at the top of a lot of casting directors' lists, but as she continues to star in her husband's films, her growing popularity may help her start showing up other places more often.
The Lords of Salem probably isn't the kind of film that will cross over for non-horror fans. However, there is plenty here to like. With a rich production value and some new and cool ideas, both fans of Zombie and those looking forward to seeing him grow as a director should find themselves pleased.